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Drinking fountains, shelters among features at off-leash dog park

Wed., July 7, 2010

After two years of meetings, volunteer labor and fundraising, it appears Kootenai County’s first off-leash dog park is poised to open in September.

“We’re planning to open and dedicate the park with a leash-cutting ceremony shortly after Labor Day,” said Doug Eastwood, the city of Coeur d’Alene’s parks director.

A joint agreement allows the city to use two acres of Coeur d’Alene School District land for one to three years. The land is just north of the city’s Northshire Park at Atlas and Nez Perce roads.

With volunteer assistance, help from the city and donations from dozens of people, the land has been fenced, graded and landscaped and benches have been installed. Next it will be hydroseeded and dog drinking fountains will be installed, along with “paw-vilions” – lattice-type shelters with benches underneath, Eastwood said. The city has agreed to operate and maintain the dog park.

Volunteers formed the Kootenai County Dog Park Association and established a budget of about $55,000. Of that, they raised about $30,000 through in-kind labor and materials. The city contributed surplus chain link fence and the Coeur Group, an association of young businessmen, installed it in June.

“The dog park’s here to stay, so we wanted to help out any way we could,” said Dustin Ainsworth, a spokesman for the group, which was established in 2004 and has helped support community projects including the Kroc Center, library and free thrift stores for students at high schools.

About three weeks ago, the dog park association also hit its fundraising goal of $25,000 in cash. Major donors included $5,000 from the Foundation for Protection of Animals, a family foundation; $5,000 from a Liberty Lake woman; $7,000 from Panhandle State Bank’s Trust and Investments Services; and $1,400 from River City Animal Hospital, said Dorothy Hatch, one of the dog park organizers.

Contributions also included the purchase of 53 $30 dog bone plaques that will be engraved with donors’ names and mounted on one of the paw-vilions. In addition, friends of the late veterinarian Dr. Dave DeLong contributed $500 for one of the paw-vilions in his honor.

“It’s pretty exciting. We’re just ready to plant the seed,” Hatch said. “And of course, that’s what’s going to take the longest, is waiting for the grass to grow.”

Bob MacDonald, who started lobbying the city three years ago for a dog park, predicts that the volunteer group’s work won’t soon be over.

“I think we’ll need another one pretty quick,” MacDonald said of dog parks. “I think this one is going to be heavily used.”

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